My roommate hates me. I can't afford to move out. What do I even do?
November 12, 2013 10:49 PM   Subscribe

How do you live in an apartment with a roommate who would probably prefer if you dropped dead?

I got into a bad fight with my roommate today in which it became clear that she basically hates me. Which isn't telling me anything I didn't already know, but I don't know what to do. I pay rent and utilities on time, but apparently everything else I do is wrong.

The list of grievances (there were a lot more, these are just the ones that come to mind)

- I'm too messy. I know this is an issue and I try to work on it, but sometimes I just don't notice messes or I'm forgetful. It's not that I don't care, it's that I literally don't notice. Right now there could be a car crash in India and a crepe dropped on the ground by some tourist in Paris and someone vomiting in Peoria and they would register as much in my consciousness as whatever small spill I find out about after the fact. If I noticed I would so something, but it's like being told "surprise! You didn't take responsibility for this thing that is complete news to you!" Or sometimes I'll have a deadline and I can't get to the dishes until 2 am or so and I forget. It's a constant source of conflict, and it's to the point where I've had nightmares about forgetting housework.

- I "flop around on the couch" and it's annoying/disgusting. I had no idea this was an issue. I fall asleep on the couch a lot lately because sometimes in the middle of work around 4 pm or so my energy crashes and I can't move, or I'll have been sick, or I'll be depressed. When she has people over I leave the living room, of course.

- I cry too often. Normally I go into my room for this. I have no idea what she expects of me here. Go out onto the street? Install soundproofing? Obviously if I knew how to stop crying all the time I'd have done it a long time ago for myself. Specifically she told me I need to check into a psych ward, which I cannot afford and which seems like a very drastic move. (yes I am in therapy, yes I am going into debt for it, proceed)

- I'm the worst roommate she's ever had. This is harder to verify but our last roommate stole $3,000 from me (it's been resolved), which puts me pretty low on the "tiers of terrible people" scale.

- I'm immature, she has no respect for me, and no one would ever want to be friends with me. These are all obviously really sore spots for me.

- I'm too ugly to get laid. Direct quote. I told her I have a boyfriend and she just laughed and said "what, did you go on one date?" I told her it's been a couple months and she said "fine, I bet he does a REALLY GOOD JOB of it." Then I said something like it's really ironic that she thinks I'm the immature one when she said something like that, and she said she didn't care, she just wanted to hurt me, and we're not friends so I should expect that. I have no idea what to do with this. Obviously it's a sore spot for me because I have never found myself attractive (although I do find it kind of funny/sad that a) she identifies as a feminist and still thinks this is an okay thing to say about any woman, friend or not, and b) I can simultaneously be too ugly to get laid and a slut somehow based on things that have been said to me.) But nothing I can do or say will convince her that it's wrong, so it might as well be right.

I have no idea what to do. I've never felt at home in my own apartment anyway, but obviously this exacerbates things. I can't afford to move out (my boyfriend has a car but there is furniture/etc), and I can't find any apartments anyway that are comparable to my price range, and apartment hunting in New York is an impossible nightmare anyway. At least one person's offered for me to crash on their couch for a few days but that is only temporary. Ideally I'd like to resolve things in a reasonable manner but I don't know how to do that. I'm not asking to be friends, I just want to have her be OK with me.
posted by dekathelon to Human Relations (78 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
She sounds godawful. The problem isn't that she hates you. The problem is she acts like a bitch towards you and you need to move out for your own self-respect.

Interesting--we often hear from roommate issues on AskMefi where the other roommate's the messy, forgetful one who never does things right. In those questions, people answer with a knowing "I've been there" response and/or to kick 'em out. This is a first for me to read the potential "other side of the story". But either way, get out of this situation. It's toxic.
posted by rhythm_queen at 11:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

Your roommate sounds like an asshole.

You have my permission to ignore her until such time as you have the ability to move.

Seriously, my prescription is not to give a single fuck.

Continue paying rent, bills, and living up to any arrangements between the two of you. Try to be better about cleaning, and maybe have a snack in the afternoons or go to your room to nap.

Otherwise? Fuck her. Her opinions mean nothing. Start saving up the deposit on a new place.

(Also, while yes, it is difficult to find an apartment in New York, it's not that difficult. And you can hire a man with a van for your furniture. It will cost $100, if not less depending on how much furniture we're talking about.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 PM on November 12, 2013 [34 favorites]

Look to move as soon as you can. If she starts talking in the way you've indicated above, just walk away. Put some imaginary earplugs in your ears and walk away. She's bullying you because you're depressed and she gets off on sticking it to people when they're down. Get the hell out of there.
posted by heyjude at 11:08 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Do you have a lock on your door you can lock when you're not there? Seriously, put everything you care about in your room and lock it when you're stepping out for more than five minutes. Just in case. Sorry, I have been in a similar situation. Sabotage is a possibility if she's immature enough to make cracks about your sex life when she's complaining about, what, dishes?

Definitely start saving up for a new place; definitely keep trying to stay neat and clean-ish. Take the high road and don't discuss anything with her other than apartment responsibilities (rent is due/it is my turn to clean the bathroom and I will do it on Thursday/please pay your portion of the electricity/etc.) You're doing the best you can; if she hates it so much, she can be the one to move out. Or you'll leave once you've saved up.

Keep taking care of yourself and disengage with her. If she tries to bring up anything personal, be a robot who says "I'm sorry, I'm not interested in talking about my personal life." It sucks to have to be guarded in your own home, but it's the only way. Treat her like an irritating household feature, like a hideous lighting fixture that your landlord won't remove and you have to live with in the center of your living room. Basic respect but absolutely no more unless she earns it.

Contact your local tenants' union if you can-- they can advise you as to your rights in a roommate dispute.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:24 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

for the sake of your mental health you really need to move. while you have to live with her i think you'd be smart to stay in your own room more so you don't have to deal with her unless necessary. you don't have to hide out but i'd personally make myself scarce if i knew she was going to be around at certain times.
posted by wildflower at 11:34 PM on November 12, 2013

From your description, your roommate sounds very rude and immature. Obviously some of those things are horrible things to say.

You should leave as soon as you can.

That said, there are a few things you are describing that may frustrate future roommates unless you give them some thought and work on them.

When your roommate is complaining about you "flopping on the couch," what she is really complaining about is the fact that you are monopolizing a shared space too often. If you were sitting on the couch reading, or watching TV, she might feel comfortable sharing that space with you. But if you're slumped over and asleep, she may feel she's just going to have to stay to her room. What can she do in that room while you are passed out sleeping? She'll feel like she has to be silent, or tiptoe around. If you were doing this a few times a week, I'd be frustrated too, especially if you were sick (your roommate, like most people, probably wants you to try to keep your germs to your own bed, not the shared couch).

So, try to see it from her perspective, and try to take your naps in your bedroom, especially if you are feeling sick.

Also, there's a good chance your roommate's cleaning frustrations are valid. If you were my roommate and you kept spilling things and not cleaning up, I'd be aggravated too. Also, if you have time to cook and serve and eat food, you have 2-3 minutes to wash your dishes. It really doesn't take long and there is no way this would impact your deadlines, if the deadlines are flexible enough for you to have time to make food in the first place. Try to get better about that... get a dish wand to make dish washing easy, and try to wash things right after using them. It's a good habit to build... your roommate is not unreasonable for being aggravated that you are leaving dirty dishes laying around overnight.

Finally, your roommate made a very rude comment about your crying, but you have to understand that it might be very unsettling to her. If you're making comments about "soundproofing," does that mean you are sobbing/moaning often? If so, I can see why this would be pretty disturbing to your roommate. She should be caring and try to help you, but it would be unsettling for me if I lived with someone who sobbed and cried loudly often. It doesn't make her response right, but you should think about it from her perspective.

Your roommate sounds like she is horrid and immature, but don't let that stop you of thinking of ways you can improve your habits. If you don't, you may run into more frustration with future roommates.

Best wishes- hope you can find a new place to live soon!
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:36 PM on November 12, 2013 [78 favorites]

I've sorta been in your situation. As far as the interpersonal aspect goes, just try not to get too emotionally caught up when dealing with her. Ignore her as best you can, but don't be cold or passive-aggressive about it. Be the mature and rational one, and resist any urge to insult her back or win an argument... (My roommate seemed to thrive on conflict, so when I tried to calmly talk things out, it almost felt like she just wasn't used to that reaction. But I could only keep it up so long.)

And if it makes you feel any better, she's probably miserable herself to be so blatantly full of spite and scorn. Don't overestimate any signs that she's mellowing out and actually being friendly, because it doesn't sound like she was just having one bad day. Just be cordial and keep looking for your chance to move out.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:37 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jesus, please get out of this abusive situation as soon as possible. You should be able to feel safe and relaxed in your own home.
posted by fireandthud at 11:43 PM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

Completely ignore her. Pretend that she doesn't exist. When she talks to you, leave the room and put in earplugs or headphones. Don't talk to her. Shut her out of your consciousness as much as possible.
posted by windykites at 11:50 PM on November 12, 2013

Response by poster: I don't know what question you are referring to but the only one I can think of that mentioned roommates certainly explains why it is not even close to being an option to ask her for extra time on rent or whatever. (For what it's worth I have never in my life failed to pay rent or paid it late.)

As far as my rights I am pretty sure I have none (except, like, the right to not be murdered etc) because I am not officially on the lease, it is a long-term sublet situation where only she is. I forgot to mention that. It makes it easier in theory to move )or be kicked) out but the problem is the money and the room availability which would be a problem, lease or no lease.

And I know I'm a difficult person to live with but I'm trying, I'm a lot better than I was years ago, and even difficult people to live with... need to live somewhere?
posted by dekathelon at 11:50 PM on November 12, 2013

Have you talked to your therapist about your roommate and told him/her the kinds of things she's saying? What does s/he suggest?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:55 PM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]

here are the classifieds of a large church in NYC. they have housing listings.

i remember reading some of your previous threads and you might want to check out codependents anonymous. it will teach you some great interpersonal skills, allow you to meet lots of people and it's free.
posted by wildflower at 12:03 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I understand it's difficult, but I think this is one of those situations where you just need to take the hit and move out. It's effectively abuse, and from the sound of it a kind of abuse to which you are especially vulnerable. Sometimes you need to do things for your own safety, and getting the hell away from this person is something you need to do to protect your self esteem. I suspect that even before she said all this she was conveying her attitude to you in other ways, and that was probably even more damaging. Do what you would do if she were physically hitting you, ie leave asap. Crash on your friend's couch. It will be OK. I am in London but I would help you get your stuff out if I could. If I ran into her I'd also give your housemate a major bollocking* because she sounds like a piece of work.

*Actually I probably wouldn't because I suck at that kind of confrontation but I am seething right now.
posted by Acheman at 12:06 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think every frustration of hers that you've listed is likely a valid one, even if she conveyed them in a cruel and awful way.

Messes. Your explanation doesn't totally make sense. You don't "notice" a spill? If you are responsible for a spill there's really no excuse for not "noticing" it. So either you aren't responsible for the spill, you need to start paying attention, or there's a weird disconnect from reality/mental health issue you need to address in yourself.

Flopping around on the couch. It is really gross and disturbing to live with a roommate and have them get too comfortable, to an extreme, in the living room. Falling asleep, etc. you can control that. When you start to get tired, go to your room. At the worst extreme it almost seems unhygienic, with drooling, oils from your skin getting into the couch, etc. and it's just unappealing to have an inert person passed out in one's living space. It's really a legitimate concern she has; this is a boundary issue, in which your sleeping on the couch is encroaching on her boundaries, because honestly living rooms are for being awake and bedrooms are for sleeping.

Crying too much. She shouldn't have to hear you cry. If you are audibly crying, that is inappropriate.


If you address all these things -- and indeed, they are in your power to control -- you will go a long way toward assuaging her legitimate grievances and probably improve relations considerably. All of these problems sound like manifestations of depression.
posted by jayder at 12:39 AM on November 13, 2013 [49 favorites]

Yeah, there's a weird mix of legitimate grievances and awful, terrible things in your question and it's extremely difficult to untangle. But I can say that if things have gotten to the point where one roommate has that kind of contempt for another roommate it's likely that nothing short of someone moving out will resolve matters, regardless of how many of the issues are legitimate and how many are crazypants awfulness.

But it's hard to address the points in your question because of the odd mixture I mentioned. The spills and so on are absolutely a problem you need to fix but talking about that seems like it would be validating her awful abuse with the "too ugly to get laid" comments. And so on. So I dunno what to say except it's very difficult to improve situations once they've gotten to this point.
posted by Justinian at 12:47 AM on November 13, 2013 [17 favorites]

Initially, I was going to give you some tips on how to deal with her grievances because first couple seemed like things you could deal with better.

Then I got to "Specifically she told me I need to check into a psych ward," and I thought, yeah, well screw her.

And then when I got to "I said something like it's really ironic that she thinks I'm the immature one when she said something like that, and she said she didn't care, she just wanted to hurt me, and we're not friends so I should expect that" I went ballistic.

You do need to live somewhere, but not there. But, I would ignore the crap out of her for as long as possible, save up some money, and move on.
posted by heyjude at 1:09 AM on November 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

What you do is start working on Operation Move Out, right now. Moving out might now be something you can do immediately, but planning for it is.

How much would you probably need for a deposit? Not 'too much' or 'more than I can afford', but an actual realistic amount based on what's being asked for in places advertised at the moment. Now, start working out how you can get that - not immediately, but in the future. Are you in a position where you can save X per month, however small? Then that goes to the Operation Move Out fund. Can you borrow money off anyone (boyfriend maybe?), with plans to pay it back over X amount of time? Did you pay a deposit on your current place, which you could get back? (I appreciate you likely wouldn't get it back until you'd already had to pay a new one, and what a tough situation that is to be in - been there myself - but it makes short-term borrowing more feasible.)

You're kind of presenting this as a situation where moving out is impossible, so you've got to find a way to make your roommate not hate you. But, look: you can't make her not hate you. Even if you stayed off the sofa, cleaned up every spill, and never cried again, she is still going to be awful to you. You can negotiate roommate arguments; you can't negotiate someone into treating you decently when they already think that kind of abuse is okay to throw at you. That is the impossible option. Moving out is difficult, very difficult, but it is not actually impossible.

You say the rental market in New York is horrendous; okay, I believe you, but still people are moving into and out of rooms every day, there is somewhere out there you can live. You say there's nowhere within your price range; okay, that's hard, but you found this place, it will not be the only one out there at that rent. You say you can't afford to move because you have furniture; okay, you can either add the cost of a man-with-a-van service to Operation Move Out, or you can sell it. But what you can't do, for your own sake, is to keep living in this impossible situation for the sake of a table.

Start working on Operation Move Out, now, today, and in the meantime stay out of your roommate's way and keep your head down. If she can't abuse you into leaving, she may well try to kick you out anyway - jump before you're pushed.
posted by Catseye at 1:18 AM on November 13, 2013 [17 favorites]

Your roommate is handling some legit concerns very drastically and abusively, but that does not mean that you get a free pass on taking care of your end of the roommate bargain just because she's being a rude cow. You are an adult and you need to start figuring out how to manage stuff, even when you're down and low and don't think you can. Being forgetful isn't a reason to not clean up after yourself if you live with other people. Being sad or tired does not mean that you get to repeatedly burden a roommate with your tears or your person in a public and shared living space. You are capable of being a good roommate, but I think you've given yourself a free pass on these things because you've got such a virulent case of learned helplessness that you're not even trying to make things work any more even though it sounds like this is not the first time you've been given feedback like this. You are responsible for you and only you, so take responsibility for yourself and all that entails. Her anger is her stuff. Her abuse is a reflection of where she's at in terms of tolerating your shared living arrangement. That doesn't make her right, but in her mind all her experiences with you probably justify the vitriol she's spouting (in her opinion).

You have a few options. You can work with your therapist to help you be more mindful, you can look into mindfulness training online since you clearly have access to an internet connection, and you can stand up for yourself by saying, "I am dealing with a lot of stuff right now and I will do the best that I can to meet your needs and mine, but I will not tolerate the abusive shit you've been spouting lately so shut up and keep to your part of the apartment so we can both move forward in life." You can do a lot of things, so start trying what's been suggested to you and keep moving forward.

But do not treat yourself like you have a free pass to not address the stuff your roommate has brought up to you. That's not going to work here or with any other roommate, so try something else this time.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:19 AM on November 13, 2013 [47 favorites]

She doesn't sound like a good roommate and it would be a good idea to find a different place to live.

Regarding the cleaning, though: I think it's worth getting this sorted out, if only for your sake and not for your roommate's.

One thing to try is to just assume there will be a mess wherever you are. So when you get up from the couch, for example, you look around to see if anything spilled. When you're done in the kitchen, you check the counters and floor quickly before leaving. After you use the microwave, you assume something must have spilled or splattered and check. Using the range always makes a mess. Etc. It sounds tedious and annoying, but it can become a very automatic habit and not really take any time at all.

It doesn't take long to do dishes. Even if you're on deadline, you can do as many dishes as will fit into five minutes, say, and wipe down the counters (30 seconds?). It really helps.

Finally, it doesn't hurt to go on a voluntary cleaning spree once in a while and clean some part of the apartment (especially the kitchen) really, really thoroughly. I've found it helps when I'm depressed, though YMMV. Doing it that thoroughly and paying attention to how something looks when it's really clean might help you pay more attention to its state in general.
posted by egg drop at 1:54 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

You're messy and loud sometimes-- that doesn't justify what she said. I actually feel more that you're conflicting personalities with conflicting lifestyles, and that for whatever reason she feels you're 'wrong' and you live 'wrong' and she has no qualms letting you know. The way she aired those grievances, make her a bully. There are ways to say things without them being, well, cruel.

"Work on your messes" vs "You're too messy."
"Is it possible for you to spend less time in the living room (because I'm having people over/it's distracting)" instead of "You flop around on the couch and it's disgusting."
"I can hear you crying, sometimes, and it's loud. I feel for you, but it's beginning to interfere with my sleep/study/schedule. Are you okay?" vs "You cry too much."

"You're immature" -- shouldn't have been said at all. It has nothing to do with anything. So what if you're immature? What's it to her? Same with, "you're too ugly," etc. This places her square in the wrong, to me.

She sounds like a real piece of work. Thing is, the way she mentioned your issues, putting aside whether they're legitimate or not, has put you in a 'lose-lose' situation. You can't fix something like 'you cry too much,' -- or 'you're too messy'. What exactly about your crying is bothering her? Are you sitting there pounding the walls and sobbing? Or is it just that it bothers her in general? And the messy thing, as you said, you don't seem to realize when you do it, so I'm guessing that she's super neat-- puts things away immediately, does the dishes immediately-- and you're just not, and you don't mind if the dishes are done in the morning and such. Things like that are a mindset, and it's hard to change.

But you can fix something specific, like, 'you leave the fridge door open,' or 'you're too loud between x time, can you keep it down?' but the way she worded the issues, to me, means she has a problem with you, not just the things you're doing, and I highly doubt that making more of an effort is going to appease her. She'll just find something else to hate you over.

At least you're getting therapy; I think she'd benefit from some as well. I have no idea whether or not you're really a bad roomie, but I guarantee that you do not deserve the amount of vitriol you're getting from her. In fact, I think she's generally not a nice person, who sees you as an easy target to attack, namely because you have almost zero self esteem (as evidenced by your previous questions) and this is why she's so cruel and disrespectful to you. Some people pounce on weakness, because they're insecure themselves, and love tearing people down. I mean, "you're too ugly too get laid." Really? Anyone that would say that to someone, then justify it with, "I can say whatever because we're not friends," doesn't really deserve any respect; and it makes me question how valid her concerns truly are.

So how do you make her like you? Well, you can work on the noise, the messes, and being in the living room, but as I said-- I don't think doing so will make her like you, or make things better.

You need to move out, asap. And you need to stop interacting with people who are toxic like this. Because it's not you; she just hates you, and she probably always will. And that sucks. But it happens. Some people just look down on others. It's not you. And even if it is you, you're not going to want to be better when someone is hypercritical like that; it's not conducive to you bettering yourself, or being a better room-mate, which you clearly want to do. If you could talk to her more calmly about it you probably would try harder to appease her. After all, she's the one who hates you; you didn't mention disliking her. And I don't think being a bit messy and crying too much explains the outright disdain she has for you. You'd have to be the roomie from hell, and somehow I don't think you are.

In the meantime, try and stay out of her way, do your best regarding invading her space and your messes-- ignore her if she says cruel things to you, save as much as you can and try to find somewhere else to live. Really. You hinder your progress being around someone like that.

P.S. Even not knowing you, believe me, there is nothing 'wrong' with you, and you most certainly aren't ugly.
posted by Dimes at 2:03 AM on November 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

You know, i think that every single thing listed here besides the messiness is "butt out". Passing out on the couch sometimes is completely normal and has happened in every share house i've ever lived in, including the properly nice as hell "they rented this place to a bunch of 20something and students? wtf?" level of nice places.

If i was an insurance investigator assigning blame in that style i'd say this is like 80/20 based on your description, with this bullshit being 80% her fault.

I really don't buy any kind of "well you started the fire here by doing XYZ, and this is just how she expresses her frustration since there's nothing she can do about it" argument. That's like saying it's "understandable" that someone angrily smashed up your car with a baseball bat because you spilled something on their laptop. This is like, elementary school level "two wrongs don't make a right" sort of shit here.

You are doing something shitty and unproductive to any roommate situation by being too ditzy to clean up after yourself, but everything else she does is pretty much happening on a parallel plane of existence where that might as well be a fish with wings flapping through the air. Addressing the first one to try and mitigate the second one is like running the sink with the expectation it will water the flowers in the yard.

What i really wanted to get to though, is this

and I can't find any apartments anyway that are comparable to my price range

Is what you're saying here that there's nothing else you can afford to pay for period? or that this place is pretty nice, and there's nothing else that nice you can afford.

Because that's a bit of a logical fallacy there. And i'm saying this as someone who has stuck out bullshit situations and places multiple times because "Oh, but it's SUCH a nice place for the money" or "It's in such a desirable spot and so close to my work too!" or even "But if i move out the other person/people will be fucked even though they're toxic and deserve to fail". Let's focus on the first two though.

Because, the thing is, this is NOT a nice place for the money. It wouldn't even be a nice place if it was free. This is absolutely effecting your mental health and emotional well being to be here, and the stress will likely effect your physical health with time. This sort of behavior is like an infestation. And it's reached the stages of building destroying black mold, or severe water damage. Staying there because it's "nice" and a "good deal" is a fallacy, because it's like staying in a place full of rats and roaches that crawl on you in your sleep, and scurry across the plates when you pull them out of the cabinet.

This person is reducing the value of this place to you IMMENSELY, to the extent that i would argue that the shittiest sketchy SRO hotel place would be a massive step up simply because it didn't have that person in it. You need to be looking at places with that mindset, as if you were living in a place with a horrible infestation the landlord flat out refused to deal with and you had to leave before it made you any more ill.

To close though, i really don't think there's anything you're doing wrong here, or even anything you could conceivably ever do to deserve this sort of treatment. No ifs ands or butts there. That's just not how people who aren't absolute pieces of shit treat other people. I also think that there's nothing to be gained with trying to concede and bend yourself to make her "happy". You never, ever will. When this level of contempt has set in(and especially in this type of shitty, bully person) all you're going to do is pack yourself into a smaller and smaller box until you just hurt yourself while she raises the bar higher and higher and comes up with more and more things to sling at you.

So yea, you need to leave to anywhere at all, before this black mold poisons you, so to speak.

On preview, really nthing Dimes' line of
the way she worded the issues, to me, means she has a problem with you, not just the things you're doing, and I highly doubt that making more of an effort is going to appease her. She'll just find something else to hate you over.

This is not a solvable problem, this is stonewalling. The goalposts will forever move.
posted by emptythought at 2:08 AM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

This person is your roommate, not your signifigant other, but they are exhibiting classic abusive behavior, with the constant harping on YOUR messiness, YOUR laziness, YOUR immaturity and lack of friends and undesirability as a girlfriend and and and.... the "you need to check into a psych ward" is a real whopper! The scary part is that it sound likes she's succeeding at beating you down, and you're starting to believe her.

So since this person is exactly equal to an abusive SO and the solution to that would be Move Out, I'm afraid that even though you say you can't afford to, you have to ditch this MF and leave.
posted by easily confused at 2:36 AM on November 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm not asking to be friends, I just want to have her be OK with me.

You can't change her, you can only change yourself.

Frankly, it sounds like there's a whole bunch of resentment that has been simmering under for a *long* time which has finally come to a head. I wouldn't be surprised if she believes that she has already asked you to change these behaviours and from her point of view nothing has changed.

To me, it sounds as if from her point of view you encroach into her space in every way possible such that she cannot ever avoid being aware of you: You leave mess in the kitchen & shared spaces; she comes home to find you asleep on the couch (a lot, by your own admission), or just there, being depressed; When not in the shared spaces, you're crying in your room & everyone else can hear you. For a short period, none of these things is necessarily intolerable, but over a longer a period of time when the person doesn't even respond when asked to change their behaviour? I can imagine the resentment just building and building, whether that's fair or not.

The vicious, mean spirited comments about your looks and desirability are a consequence of her wanting to get some kind of revenge for these perceived slights. From her POV you're the one who has continuously insulted her and ignored her and now she wants to hurt you back. Yes, it's immature and horrible, but it's also completely understandable: It's pointless arguing with her about the things she's said about you because she isn't stating things she necessarily believes, she's simply trying to hurt you. By responding at all you're just showing her where you're vulnerable unfortunately.

The root of many of these problems lies with your depression: you're not getting off the couch and clearing up because you're depressed, you're flopping on the couch and being depressed, you're crying in your room because you're depressed. Getting better with the help of your therapist is the shortest route to solving these problems for good.

You asked how you can have your roommates be OK with you. The answer is not to encroach on their personal/mental space so much. You have a room, so work in there and flop on your own bed if you need to sleep. Likewise if you need to just slump for a bit, do it on your bed not the couch. Ask your therapist about mindfulness & practice clearing up after yourself consistently. Make it something that just happens by habit not something you have to actually think about. I know it's rotten, but cry quietly, or put the radio on if you need a good blub.

But I'd also expect an apology from the roommate for the hurtful things she has said & if one wasn't forthcoming then I'd be moving out because living with someone who dislikes you that much isn't going to do anything for your mental health. Life is short: don't waste it trying to win back the respect of someone who doesn't care about you.
posted by pharm at 2:58 AM on November 13, 2013 [20 favorites]

I think you need to move out, pronto - her behavior is unacceptable and sounds like it is seriously detrimental for your mental health.

And I know I'm a difficult person to live with but I'm trying, I'm a lot better than I was years ago, and even difficult people to live with... need to live somewhere?

I don't live with roommates for just this reason. I'm not a particularly difficult person to live with, but I am an introvert and spend a lot of my time at home being quiet, which was tough in college with roommates. Sounds like you need to graduate to a studio where you're living alone. No matter how small it is, it will be your own space. And, honestly, other people don't have to live with people who are difficult to live with. Sounds like she is pretty difficult to live with too, and I give you permission not to live with her.
posted by arnicae at 4:03 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

damn, this roommate you have sounds like an asshole and i think you should not devote another minute to trying to get her to be ok with you, or get her to elicit an apology, or convince you are a good person. you ARE a perfectly good person even if you have depression and aren't the ideal roommate and sometimes fall asleep on the couch. she's just an asshole.

my recommendation, until you can find a place to move, is to give her as blank and expressionless of a reaction as possible to her flying off the handle and airing "grievances" (they're not actually solvable problems but just her attacking to vent her emotions). next time she makes some nasty comment toward you, just say, "ok, thanks," and end the conversation. or just say "interesting," with a generally disinterested expression and go back to whatever you were doing (watching tv, washing dishes, eating dinner, whatever).

think of the kind of reaction you'd ideally have to a complete stranger losing their temper at you - i.e. someone you don't know, someone whose opinion of you has no particular emotional currency, someone whose outburst can just cause raised eyebrows and maybe a deadpan "wow" but ultimately doesn't matter because they are not a person in your life, just a crazy outburst you're randomly witnessing. she will soon not be a person in your life.

you don't have to engage with her attacks or justify your self-worth to her. you don't have to constantly clean up after both of you (that won't make her happy either, she'll just be mean about something else.) exert a consistent, reasonable but not overboard amount of energy being polite/clean and ignore any reaction she has or any demand she makes of you. just respond as neutrally as possible and interact with her as little as possible. i'd also not share things about my life with her - if she asks about your BF or something else in your life just give some nonresponse "everything's great, thanks" with little emotion and don't engage her, because it sounds like whenever she finds out something about you she just uses it to insult you later, and that's awful.

also maybe go stay at your boyfriend's place on the weekends or whatever and make sure you lock your door at all times (when you're in your room as well as out of the apartment at work/doing stuff).
posted by zdravo at 4:35 AM on November 13, 2013

I would skip therapist visits for a while and apply that money to getting into a better living situation. You'll get more mental health by moving than talking right now, because this roommate is toxic.
posted by Houstonian at 4:44 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I have seen this question from the other side; describing a messy and slouchy roommate, the advice tends to be about finding a way to kick them out. My guess is it is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps you can try to find a way to mediate (in the company of an impartial person so things don't get personal again) to find a resolution in the short term before you move out? You both still can change and co-operate to make it work.
posted by 0 answers at 5:37 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just because you're not on the lease, doesn't mean you don't have legal rights. In NYC, tenants have TONS of rights. Here is a good overview of your rights as a roommate.

Clean up after yourself (the second a mess is made or a dish is dirtied), continue with your therapy, ignore roommate. Discuss this with your therapist to see if they have any strategies for dealing with this.

Your roommate has basically no recourse but to move out themselves or try to formally evict you (pretty much impossible if you've paid your rent). So don't catastrophize this - just work on looking for a new situation and take solace in the fact that she's SoL.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:39 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ok, so she's a mean jerk. The thing she said to you about getting laid? Way inappropriate.

But seriously, spilling stuff and not cleaning it up? Sleeping in the living room all the time? Crying audibly all the time? If I were living with some random person and they did these things on the reg, I wouldn't have such a high opinion of my living situation either. Paying rent and utilities in time is the bare minimum.

Get yourself together. Start being a better roommate if you want better roommates. Clean up your damn spills, sleep on your damn bed, and talk to a damn therapist already.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:52 AM on November 13, 2013 [16 favorites]

I feel I need to respond one more time because you are getting some well-meaning but toxic advice.

As a person who has dealt with depression that seems very similar to yours, I get how you feel. My therapist helped me recognize how my depression was fueling destructive tendencies in my life.

She showed me that depression can lead you to do four things: to be overly extreme and "hopeless" in your thinking about your situation rather than being a problem-solver, to look for the path of least resistance, to rationalize doing nothing, and to focus on outward forces rather than on inward ones.

The end result is a depressed person who is struggling to the point that they feel like it is impossible to work toward making personal changes. This is never the case.

I see this in your post and in your reply.

First, let's talk about being extreme and "hopeless" in your thinking. I don't know you personally so perhaps your roommate really has said all these horrid things, perhaps she really is impossible to live with. However, looking at your AskMeFi history and thinking back to some of your past questions I remember, I think you may have this issue. You have posted very extreme things all over the place. Here are some paraphrases and direct quotes: "I am a failure, nobody will hire me because nobody cares about me, I have no skills and prospects, I will never have any friends for the rest of my life, I am unclean and a slut, I am unattractive and I need plastic surgery, I never have relationships that last long-term, everything in my life is falling apart."

I didn't make any of that up. You said all of those things... a couple were probably sarcastic, but you still said them about yourself. Surely they are very extreme things to say, right? They are very exaggerated things to say about yourself and your situations. Are you exaggerating your circumstances here in this situation again?

Now for rationalizing doing nothing. You may have a legitimate grievance in that you have a rude and inappropriate roommate. But you're also looking to rationalize doing nothing about your own tendencies: "I've already improved on this in the past, everyone deserves a place to live." Well, of course everyone does- but you are doing some things that would annoy most roommates, so if you've gone from taking weeks to wash dishes to just taking a day or two, you still have some improvements to make to your habits. Don't rationalize doing nothing.

Now for the final two thought patterns. I also see you searching for the path of least resistance here- you need to be more willing to rip off the bandaid and take action. Move, if that's what is needed... work on your habits if that is what's needed... don't stop yourself with excuses about why you should sit and do nothing. And, when it comes to focusing too much on outside, external forces, I see you focusing too much on what your roommate has done wrong here... yes, she sounds entirely inappropriate, but I think you are downplaying your role in this situation. I know that it's easier to focus entirely on her poor behavior than on the other issues also in play, but that's not going to get you anywhere.

You are getting advice in this thread telling you essentially that it's all your roommate's fault, and that the only thing you should worry about is getting out and going elsewhere as there's nothing here that you need to change.

This is really toxic advice for you and what's more, I know from experience that it's the advice you are going to want to follow. That's because it will feed into your extreme thinking, it will help you rationalize doing nothing, it's the path of least resistance, and it focuses entirely on an outside force (the evil roommate) and not on inside forces (what can I do to improve how I handle this, what did I legitimately screw up here, what do I do to be a better roommate in the future).

Keep fighting the good fight. But recognize these destructive thought patterns. You CAN improve your habits and your situation in life if you set your mind to it, and work a little each day. You can do it!
posted by Old Man McKay at 5:56 AM on November 13, 2013 [112 favorites]

Your roommate has legitimate concerns, but at the end of the day, she's an ass so fuck her.

First let's address the things that are legitimate, so that in your next living situation they won't come up as issues:

Sort out the "I can't see messes." You can't see them if you don't look for them, so look for them. Hang out more in your room. Don't be in the living room all the time. As for the crying, talk to your GP about an anti-depressant that will work. I am 100% serious about this. Crying all the time is not a way to live your life.

As for engaging in fights with her. Don't. If she starts getting shouty with you, simply say, "You have a right to be angry, but I'm not going to stand here and be your whipping boy. When you can speak to me civilly, we can discuss whatever it is that has your panties in a knot." Then go to your room. Buy a pair of earphones and turn up your music so you don't have to listen to her if she's screaming through the door.

Now is the time that you must start looking for a new living situation. This is non-negotiable. I don't buy that this is the only apartment in NY. It's not a walk in the park, but it can be done, so do it.

You are not a victim of your life. You are a grown woman with agency. Take action to make positive changes, even if it's just getting a second job so you can save up enough money to move.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:06 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I have to agree with Old Man McKay's advice, as well as that of These Birds of a Feather.

You describe your roommate as a toxic person, and she may be, but you habitually describe everyone like that, including yourself and us. If you move somewhere else, your messiness, monopolization of shared living space, and infliction of emotional distress are still going to cause conflict, and you are still going to be living with people you see as toxic because that's how you apparently see everyone.

You can't change others, but you can do things to correct faults in yourself, and the law of averages dictates that you must eventually encounter roommates and other people who are not toxic and despicable. When you do, your investment into improving your living skills will repay you tenfold.
posted by tel3path at 6:12 AM on November 13, 2013 [17 favorites]

As awful as this situation is, I remember your other questions and mostly what strikes me is: holy shit, you are doing so well! You're seeing someone, you didn't get kicked out of your apartment for not paying rent when you ran out of money, and most importantly of all, you. are. in. therapy. Goddamn, girl! I feel like all of Metafilter should be getting together to have a party in your honor.

Given all that, my answer to this question is way different than it would be otherwise. I would do my best not to sweat it, in the faith that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, it's going to get better. The messiness, the sleeping on the couch, the sobbing - these are all manifestations of depression, and if the therapy is working as it should, they will pass. In other words, you are already committing yourself to solving those problems, in a much deeper sense than, say, setting up a chore wheel or doing your best to drag yourself off the couch by midnight.

Look, I can't imagine it's been easy for your roommate. Living with someone as depressed as you have been must have been very scary, especially if she cared about you at all. Fuck, I was scared for you, and I don't even know you. So if it helps you to have empathy for her, I imagine that at least some of her toxic, toxic behavior was initially rooted in concern, even if by now it's curdled beyond recognition.

The beatific, saint-like thing to do, I think, would be to sit her down, apologize for how difficult this last year has been, tell her that you've been very depressed, but you're in therapy and you're working on it, and you are optimistic it's going to get better, and ask for her forbearance now. You don't owe her this, though, and if you think the response is going to be abusive or insensitive, don't bother. The next time she says something to you, just nod, smile, and say, "Yes, I'm working on it." Because you are.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:15 AM on November 13, 2013 [52 favorites]

Hi, I am a random person on the internet who you don't know, but I'm with pretentious illiterate. I, too, remember your questions, and the first thing that struck me on reading your latest one was that you have made so much progress in the face of some huge challenges. Congratulations! Give yourself lots of credit for managing things as well as you have.

Now, as for you and your roommate, I think you're both in the wrong here. Nothing in your behavior gives her the right to say things for the express purpose of hurting you. Anyone who says a thing like "You are too ugly to get laid" is awful. Period.

Having said that, I agree with others here that you also have some behaviors that can try even nice, patient people. I've lived with people who "don't see messes," take up too much common space, and make lots of personal noises in their own rooms, and over time, this can be extremely trying even in otherwise delightful roommates. I'd work on these using egg drop's suggestions not because you are going to make your current roommate saner but because it will help you to start develop habits that will lead to more pleasant living situations for you and your future roommates.

You're doing really well, though. What sucks is that when we're struggling and we're doing really well we have to keep doing it, keep improving, and it's so hard, and we get so tired of dealing with one damn thing after another, but I promise you that it is not going to be that way forever.
posted by tiger tiger at 6:29 AM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

Hi. I spent a year or two living with somebody who hated me. It was awful. Give yourself whatever presents you can to compensate for this awful situation.

First, forgive yourself for being stuck in the situation (of course, I guess getting out asap as a given).

Second, while you have to deal with this awful fuckwad of a person, be all Black Flag and "Rise Above." Meaning just keep turning that other cheek. Escalating it will bring you nothing. You will get revenge by living a good life when you get out.

And you know to get out right away, right? If this gets to the point where you are worried this (*&(*(%(*&&% might kick you out w/o judicial process, be ready with a list of shelters and resources. And good luck to you.
posted by angrycat at 6:34 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

And while, yeah, roommates can be really fucking annoying, but I can be really fucking annoying too. Look at it this way: I'm in frequent pain that wakes me up screaming. That would annoy, rightly, any roommate who really needed sleep.

If you have destructive tendencies that annoy others, work them out in therapy. Be worried that they might interfere in your relationship. But this roommate clearly hates you, and you need to get away for that shit. The self-examination should be a second priority to your own skin.
posted by angrycat at 6:39 AM on November 13, 2013

She sounds awful. However, there are a few things you can control:

* Don't sleep on the shared couch. Even if you guys got along, this makes people uncomfortable, like they can't use their own home. This is totally controllable, if you are falling asleep unexpectedly, do your work in your own room. Being so overcome with sleep that you nod off wherever you are is a "once in a while thing", not standard sleeping practice.

* Messes. Being "messy" is leaving the newspaper out or not getting your clothes out of the dryer until the next day. Spills are totally different. Not many people are really going to believe you don't "notice" spills. Clean them up.

* Working on your depression will make everything else easier; sleeping in the middle of the day, not caring about the mess you make, crying all the time?

The fact that some of her complaints are legitimate, does not take away from the fact that she sounds nasty and childish. Move out the second you can.
posted by spaltavian at 6:41 AM on November 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Agreed with the poster above, some of her grievances are legit.

I'm not asking to be friends, I just want to have her be OK with me.

Flip that on its head. Let her hate you. If you accept that she hates you, then you will feel more relaxed. Hey, you're going to be yourself anyway, and she's already established that your self is not what she likes. So don't try to change the unchangeable. Now, knowing that she hates you, be fair and decent. Try to pick up a little and yeah cry quietly. That won't change her attitude (she's decided to hate you, full stop) but it will help you get through without making things worse.

[If you were REALLY bitchy you could start a flame war. Hear me out. She's saying nasty things about you to your face, calling you ugly, not worthy of her friendship (who cares?). Fire back with a good ol "F-you, don't say that about me" and then stand your ground till she leaves the room. Now she knows she's not dealing with a little push over. It will heighten tension which is already there anyways, but at least now you're equals. NOW you can start living fairly. Be prepared to hold up your side of the bargain (clean up every few days and cry quietly). But at least you're not on the shit end of her dumptruck. Of course, only you know if she's horrible enough to start damaging your things or retaliating in low ways, but most people will hate you and yet begrudgingly give you some respect-space. Then act like it's your home (because it is) and read on the couch if you want. Basically think of this like two cats fighting for territory, and right now her cat is winning. It is the non-peaceful approach (at first, but hopefully restores peace in the longer term), but given the completely out of line things she said, she needs to be put in her place a little]
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:43 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Treat your depression. Move out when you can.

In the meantime, move into your room and ignore the hell out of her. Wash any dishes as soon as you're done with them and go right back into your room. I've had to do this before and it's not like you should have a right to the rest of the apartment, but if you can shut yourself in your room and put on some headphones and pretend she doesn't exist, that will at least do something towards your being able to actually relax. And then your cleanup obligations become limited to messes in the public space, which will be rare because you're not there much. If she cares about the state of your room, well, that's her problem.

Complaining about someone with depression crying is like complaining about someone with pneumonia coughing. Yes, it's probably a bit irritating to live with, but you know what, you did not ask to get sick and it is not your responsibility to go to great lengths to hide any signs of being sick from her--so why would that be any different for depression? Your obligation right now is to do what you can to get well. It sounds like you are making progress on that and I am so freaking proud of you. Keep working on it and eventually you will describe your time with the Bitch Roommate from Hell and laugh about it, but for right now all you have to do is survive it.
posted by Sequence at 6:54 AM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

From your other questions over the past few years you mention being a freelancer in NYC who has no money and no healthcare and few local friends. Maybe you should consider moving to a cheaper area that has better job prospects (a job with an employer with healthcare) for you and/or has some of your friends living nearby and do your freelance work on the side. Depression is hell to deal with, but depression + no money is almost impossible to get out of.

Meanwhile, (especially if you are still freelancing from home) make sure to leave the apartment every day for several hours when your roommate is home (do a thorough cleaning of the common areas and leave before she gets home). If you can find a job like retail or food service you can get paid for your time out of the house and forced to interact with others socially, which is good for treating your depression. Go for long walks or ride a bike for exercise. Spend more time with your boyfriend or volunteer somewhere, anything to get you out of this spiral of making a mess, sleeping on the chesterfield, and constant loud emotional outbursts that are negatively impacting your roommate who is then dishing all that negativity back to you.
posted by saucysault at 7:01 AM on November 13, 2013 [10 favorites]

You're not on the lease, so you can leave whenever you want. Start looking.

Meanwhile. How your roommate *feels* doesn't matter. How she behaves does. Tell her in no uncertain terms that her comments were unkind, and that you deserve and expect courtesy and respect. This is a learning opportunity. Don't let people treat you badly.

Make sure you give her courtesy and respect.

- I'm too messy. Fix this. Put an appt. in your phone calendar, or whatever, and wash dishes, clean the bathroom sink, and pick stuff up, Every Day. Read Flylady or Unfuckyour habitat, and learn how to be less messy. Being messy in shared space in discourteous.

- I "flop around on the couch". What? Pay attention to your behavior - if you are too active on a shared couch, sit in a chair, or learn to be calmer. Make sure you respect other people's personal space. otherwise, no big deal.

- sleeping on the couch kind of a pain. try to nap in your room.

- I cry too often. Cry in your room and play the radio. Oversharing your emotions is hard on other people, even compassionate people. If you are severely depressed, keep in mind that irritability is a symptom of depression, and is hard on others.

- I'm the worst roommate she's ever had. She's been bottling up feelings for a while, and went overboard. see above - if someone is saying mean things, tell them to stop.

- I'm immature She has a point. You're working on it.

she has no respect for me, and no one would ever want to be friends with me. Really unkind. Mean. She's angry and she vented. see above - if someone is saying mean things, tell them to stop.

- I'm too ugly to get laid. Really unkind. Mean. In a conflict, try to stick to behavior. When someone starts to rant, say Look, you have some concerns, x, y, z, etc. I'll work on those with you. But you've started to say mean things, and that's just not acceptable. Stop it. When someone is really mean to you, they end up disliking you because they're ashamed of themselves for being mean. Better for everyone to nip it in the bud.

You have stuff to learn and growing up to do. That's not a condemnation, we all have stuff to learn, and you're young, so growing up is one of your life tasks. Try to learn from this and take new growth to your next home.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I stayed in a less than ideal living situation due to a combination of cheapness and convenience - I live in London which is as nuts as New York when it comes to housing. The fact that the live-in landlord never left the house - or indeed the living room - and communicated only in sarcastic 'jokes' was tolerable until something triggered a major depressive episode and suddenly I couldn't stand to be there any longer. For that reason, I suggest you should very much try and move. The last six months I was there was the most miserable I've been in a long time, and I still worry it had a permanent effect on my mental health. The landlord was not openly nasty or contemptuous, but just living somewhere where I felt I was only there as a convenience to help pay the mortgage and entitled to nothing more, and which didn't feel like my home, was ASTONISHINGLY stressful. It got to the point where I was having panic attacks and suicidal ideation, and alongside that, feeling horribly weak and childish because compared with war/disaster/homelessness, it wasn't that bad, right? It was horrible and you REALLY want to avoid this!

That said. Living with someone with depression can be difficult. I have bipolar disorder, and around people I don't know well, I prefer not to make it known - but I know not everyone feels that way. It can be hard work to be around someone who is a great big ball of exposed nerves, and that today doesn't even care if the sun rises again, never mind if there is a mess on the counter. (I, too, forget spills, as well as keys, matching socks and anything else that can be left somewhere, as my medication has fucked up my short-term memory.) I found it difficult as well to deal with someone who was always in the living room - my personal space is very important to me and I ended up taking annual leave just so I could relax in the place on my own. I can understand her frustration. Give yourself a schedule so you don't fall asleep in the living room, and if you feel like you want to cry, go for a walk somewhere and see if a change of scenery stops you from spiralling into sadness.

However, this does not excuse the nasty attack. She could have expressed her feelings without being so unpleasant. It would be a good idea to separate the justified complaints from the unwarranted ones - you can work on one and ignore the other. And move out. Next time, make sure you're on the lease as well.
posted by mippy at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

So, wait, why are you living with this person? Re: no options, you do have options. I don't know how awesomely low your rent is, but there is somewhere in the entire city of NYC that's going to be comparable minus the sharing the space with an unpleasant person. Back out of your lease.

It sounds like you have some clear communication issues, which you may well have a part in as well. You are an active agent in your life and you can do things and make choices. Like how you respond to your roommate and where you live.

Re: too ugly to get laid, is this a reason she doesn't like living with you or is this a grievance that you wanted to hash out on ask.metafilter to prove what an awful person she is? Anyway, to tell you want you want to hear, yes, that is a super bitchy thing to say. Also you need to get some self confidence and stop stewing over things that people say. You are an active agent in your own life and can do things and make choices to better your situation.
posted by mermily at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

First off, your roommate sounds like a real puppykicker. Somewhere around the middle of the third bullet point, she's no longer going after concerns about roommate etiquette, but aiming straight for your sensitive spots and twisting the knife.

The messiness, the couch occupation, and (to a lesser extent) the crying are all legitimate complaints. Depression is hindering your ability and willingness to improve these things, and I empathize with that. But those are all things that most roommates would find bothersome. In an ideal roommate relationship, empathy would be a two-way street: this hypothetical Ideal Roommate is patient with you because she knows you're depressed, and you make the extra effort to clean the kitchen and allow her equal share of the living room because you know that helps her feel more comfortable in her home. It sounds like things are irreparably broken with your current roommate, but keep this in mind for future roommates. You will have to stretch beyond your living-alone comfort level to make things comfortable for them. That goes for everyone living with others. Do not ignore this point because you're ill or because your roommate sucks.

Now, about hatred. Hating someone is primarily the hater's responsibility. It can feel reflexive and uncontrollable, and with someone you see every day, the smallest things can snowball into massive resentment. Good roommate etiquette can minimize the odds of someone developing a resentment snowball, but it's the resentful person's job to prevent or manage that animosity. Ultimately, that person can control what they think of you. It takes more effort the stronger the feelings are, but it can still be done. I get the impression that your roommate's just a hater and is not going to budge on that. Saying shit like "I don't care, I just want to hurt you" makes me think that she's not a decent person stretched to the breaking point, she's a legitimate bully.

I don't think you can make her un-hate you. I think all you can do is find somewhere else to live. If you don't have the resources to move right now, work on finding those resources.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:22 AM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

dekathelon, I kind of want to throw a parade in your honor. I am so happy that you have found regular work, that you have been able to make rent, and that you are getting treatment for your depression. Seriously! From one internet stranger to another, I earnestly salute you. If we were in the same city, I'd take you out for a celebratory frou-frou cocktail.

As someone who has been in a similar boat (except the "roommate" was my mom, and it all happened before I turned 18), I'm very sorry to hear that your roommate is treating you so cruelly. While I agree that living with someone who has chronic depression is difficult and can be quite wearying, even exhausting, it's plainly inappropriate for her to blow up at you and basically call you names like you're children on a playground instead of adults sharing a living space.

With that said, if it is truly impossible for you to move out, there are definitely still a few things you can work on to try to break the impasse. I know it seems intractable, but it isn't, not for you -- look at how far you've come already. You are capable and strong. You can do this stuff!

* Make your bedroom a warm and cozy sanctuary. Here are some tips from Apartment Therapy. This will naturally encourage you to stop crashing on the couch so often and make you feel better in general, as well as give your roommate more access to the common areas of the apartment. Head on over to Goodwill or Salvation Army and pick up some kitschy 99-cent paintings or nice frames for photos that make you happy. Get an awesome comforter and outrageously soft pillows (also good for crying into!). Pick up a few scented candles -- lavender is very relaxing. If you're a fan of tea, buy a small electric kettle so you can make up a nice cup of chamomile in your room whenever you'd like. Anything you can do to make your immediate personal space more comfortable and approachable will help you feel safer and more at home.

* Take your friend up on their offer to couch-crash for a couple of days. This will give your roommate some time to calm down and give you some safe space to breathe and relax. Tell your roommate that you're doing this and see how she reacts. There is a chance that she is so interminably miserable that she'll just keep insulting and castigating you, but announcing that you are going to start making a concentrated effort to increase her comfort level can go a long way.

* Sit down with your roommate and draw up a list of chores that are important to her. That way you'll know what to prioritize, which will help ease her annoyance more quickly and encourage her to be more patient and forgiving. Letting her know that You're Really Truly Working On It should help to ease her mind. If she doesn't want to speak to you, write up a checklist yourself and put it on the refrigerator for easy tracking. After that, no matter what, make sure you get at least a couple of things ticked off on the list before you go to bed. Here is a very basic guideline of suggested daily, weekly, and monthly chores. Wash or at least thoroughly rinse your dishes right after you use them. Wipe the countertops and mop the floors every once in a while even if you don't notice any spills. Tell your boyfriend that you need encouragement and support to do these things, too -- if your roommate is OK with him coming over, you could even enlist him to alert you to small messes you've unwittingly made or chores you've left undone. "Hey darlin', want to do a quick walk-through cleaning check in the kitchen? Then we can go get takeout from that place up the block."

* Set a timer for 15 minutes and clean as much of the apartment as you can in that time, EVERY DAY. You can do all the dishes in the kitchen sink and spritz the empty sink with bleach spray or 409, scrub the toilet, and put away anything that's laying around the living room (junk mail, socks, books, etc.) in that amount of time, easy. All it takes is 15-20 minutes. Here are a couple of free Pomodoro apps: iPhone, Android. I use the Android one and it's awesome.

* Please try to ignore her obvious desperate attempts to wound you. She's lashing out like a child and you know that most of what she's saying is coming from a place of discomfort and perhaps even panic. If she starts up the insult machine, leave the apartment or tell her (as calmly as possible) that she isn't allowed to speak to you that way. Ask her to speak to you like an adult.

There is a chance that her resentment has already built to a point that you cannot undo the damage she feels you've done. If that turns out to be the case, try very hard not to internalize her horrible insults, even though they prick at your innate insecurities, and try to figure out a new living situation if it is even remotely feasible.

Good luck! We're all rooting for you.
posted by divined by radio at 8:39 AM on November 13, 2013 [15 favorites]

I'm really shocked at some of the answers telling you your crying is a burden and your roommate shouldn't have to hear you cry...

I just wanted to say your feelings are valid. Humans cry when they're sad, and no one else should shame you into bottling up your emotions. You're in your home - where else is more appropriate to express yourself.
posted by fireandthud at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

Your roommate sounds a like a total asshole, but:

If you don't even remember to clean up spills, do you do any deep cleaning? As I have often fantasized about telling my roommate, the toilet cleaning/kitchen mopping/tub scrubbing fairy hasn't been visiting the house. (In other words, I do all the goddamn cleaning).

Do you take out the trash? Do you get rid of your old food, or do you let things turn into moldy science projects?

You can work on being less messy. I am not a clean person by nature, but I know that my roommate is not my mom and its not her job to pick up after me.

Also, stop sleeping on the couch.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:18 AM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

all of the advice here is great.

while you're working on shared spaces and moving out, can you possibly just live in your room almost?

I once lived in a very disgusting house with like 7 roommates, and they were all super nice people but I'm pretty introverted and don't like socializing constantly.

but my point is that with a small rice cooker and an electric kettle, you can cook like.. most things.

that rice cooker has a steamer attachment which is great. throw some rice and water in the bottom, throw some shrimp and mixed veggies in the top, let it run it's cycle, dump it all together and eat it out of the base with a little sauce and a bamboo fork to not scratch the non-stick. quickly wash your one dish and lid in the middle of the night when you have a sec and bring it all back to your room.

adapt with noodles, other grains, other meats, etc. roger ebert wrote a pretty good cookbook where everything is done in a rice cooker. once you learn how to bypass the fuzzy logic of rice cooking to keep water boiling and stuff as much as you need to (it's all about weight) then you can pretty much cook anything in a rice cooker. I abused the heck out of my cuisinart one I linked for a few years while avoiding roommates, and still use it normally for rice and stuff until now. it's good quality. also, eating like this can be pretty healthy, surprisingly.

I mean, it's very hermity, but if you don't want to see your roommates, it's pretty damn easy to stay out of their way. watch netflix on your computer monitor, eat simply out of your room, wash your dishes quickly and at weird times, keep the vast majority of your stuff in your room. I had a tiny fridge for awhile which was awesome. there's nothing to complain about with roommates if you never see them.
posted by euphoria066 at 10:26 AM on November 13, 2013

> and we're not friends so I should expect that

Damned right you're not friends. Friends don't talk that way.

How do you deal? Ignore, ignore, ignore. Respond to her when she talks to you, but there's no reason you need to listen, if this is the type of crap that comes out of her mouth. You don't need to have a discussion with her, and you certainly don't need to apologize for anything. Sure, start wiping up the counters and the floor and nap in your bedroom, but you don't need to waste any brainspace on somebody who says shit like this:
> - I'm too ugly to get laid. Direct quote.

Being roommates is, at its heart, a financial arrangement. Keep up your end of that bargain while you save up to move out. You don't need that kind of stress in your home, and you're not going to be able change her, so you need to change your home.

In the meantime, just take care of your business and let her go on her meanspirited way, because this:
> I just want to have her be OK with me.
is never going to happen. And it doesn't sound to me like that has anything to do with you.
posted by mgar at 10:38 AM on November 13, 2013

I just want to have her be OK with me.

This will not matter or be effective until you are okay with you, because once you are, this kind of behavioral bullshit will not feel like such a reflection of worth from anyone EVER.

Look, when you're struggling with depression, the reality is that MANY people WILL turn hostile towards you, because they can't be bothered to understand what kind of support you need, they figure if they're fine then you should be too, or it hits too many of their own depressive triggers that the only reaction they have is to reject the object/person in their environment inciting awareness of those inconvenient feelings. I will speak strongly in my advice to you in a way that others will not appreciate because I have been through my own version of your situation.

I agree with others that for the sake of your own mental health, find a new living arrangement. And I do hear how tough that is when you're already weighted down with depression, because any major changes feel like having to change direction while swimming through a soup with weights on your limbs, when you've only got the energy for the momentum you've already got going. I can relate to what you're describing (the frequent need to cry, the forgetfulness because as much as no one wants to see it, some days you ARE pushing yourself through a fog and your ability to be tuned in to inconsequential concerns is minimized in lieu of your mental battle to keep moving forward). IME, unless the person in your living environment has been through it themself, do NOT expect sympathy or empathy. People are NOT nice to people who are depressed; the "phenomenon" of isolation that accompanies depression is NOT just the fault of the individual suffering from it, but also from the total failure of those around them to recognize and respond appropriately to the natural healing process of their pain.

And make no mistake: you ARE healing. Crying may not feel like it, but it's a very appropriate and natural part of coming out of depression. Think of it as backlog from all the times in your life previously when you genuinely needed to have that natural reaction to something, but stifled it down. Now that deep, deep well of repressed emotion is leaking out a bit at a time, as your brain rebalances the emotional weight of your burdens as it's obviously needed to for a long, long time. You DO need privacy to properly manage it (validate it, accept the grieving as a previously estranged part of your Self), and you're not getting that in your current living situation anyway.

Feel free to flame me over projection here. But from my vantage point, it's the honest truth: a real reason why people STAY depressed and, for some, ultimately contemplate suicide is because they ARE repeatedly getting the message that their suffering is worthless and their value as a human being is NOT worth the effort of reviving. To live with someone who reinforces that every day will be the real killer in your mental health efforts, so even though it might take moving a mountain to get out, GET OUT. Cut your losses with this person; tally it up to yet another loss of potential connection due to your depression (I've lost a fair amount of acquaintances and friends in my own struggle, largely those whose god-complexes could not compute that their mere presence in my life was simply not enough to "cure" me). She doesn't see your progress; she doesn't see your struggle, and she will never see how unreasonable --not to mention inhumane-- her behavior truly is. Just get out, and be very clear if you enter a future roommate situation, that you absolutely need your privacy on days when your "health" is poor.

If you want any tips for how I strategically battled through the worst bouts of my depression, feel free to memail me and I'll share what worked for me.
Tip: a space heater makes for a very nice source of white noise in the absence of sufficient soundproofing; it won't block the sound of all your crying, but it should substantially reduce the amount that catches your roommate's attention.

Also, not disagreeing with others who've identified how your self-perception while depressed may by fueling the negative dynamics at play for you right now. There is some very good advice upthread on how to speak assertively to your need for basic respect that I second.

posted by human ecologist at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've also read some of your other questions and agree with the comments saying you should congratulate yourself on everything you've done for yourself. You were in a very bad situation and you managed to find more freelance work apparently and to come up with rent money and to seek therapy. None of those were easy I imagine, and you did them. It might sound weird since I don't know you obviously but I'm really impressed that you did all that.

I also agree with the comments saying that you should move out as soon as possible and/or move to an area with a lower cost of living and/or get a part time retail/food service/hotel job to supplement your freelance income and get out of the apartment more. BUT if it's really true that none of those are options, or at least not immediate options, then:

(1) Do all the cleaning things that people have mentioned - set an alarm (several times a day) to remind you to do your dishes and check(clean if necessary) the kitchen (stove, counters, any spills in the microwave or on the floor); do a more thorough cleaning of the kitchen once a week (sweep and mop/clean the floor and clean the microwave); clean the toilet and bathroom sink and windex the bathroom mirror at least every couple of days and as needed, it only takes a few minutes and maybe you can just make a habit of checking/cleaning if necessary every day after you take a shower (also make sure you don't you leave hair in the shower drain - most people that don't have super short hair do); take the trash out every day (set an alarm if needed).

(2) It also occurred to me that if you're at home a lot more than your roommate is, then you're probably using more of the household supplies (trash bags, toilet paper, etc.) than she is. It's sort of hard to split things exactly 50/50 anyway so just assume you're going to buy more of them. If it's informal and you guys both just buy stuff, then just keep everything stocked and if she buys stuff too, that's a bonus, otherwise it's not much extra money for you. If you guys formally split things, then offer to pay 75% or something instead of 50%.

(3) If you're doing (1) and (2), you don't owe her anything more than that. If she has a problem with you crying in your room sometimes, well, that's her problem. I really can't imagine that you're crying so loudly that it's that disturbing the quiet in the entire apartment, but maybe play some white noise or music to mask it a little if that's really an issue.

(4) If she ever brings up anything personal again (your looks, dating life, etc.), shut it down immediately. Be civil but make it clear you are not going to take any more abuse from her. Say something like "we are roommates and I would like us to get along as well can on that level and I'm doing everything I can to be a better roommate; please let me know if you have specific concerns about cleaning, etc.; but we're not friends, you've made it clear that you don't want to be friends and don't like me; I don't have any interest in talking about personal things with someone who doesn't like me, so please don't ever bring this up again". Or however you want to phrase it.

(5) Honesty can often be a pretty good antidote to embarrassment and shame. So what if she really does hate you? If you're being a decent roommate now, and she can't get over her resentment, then that's how it is. Acknowledging it, to her even, might make you feel less vulnerable. I don't that I'm explaining this right, but it is something I've experienced myself (I'm still fairly shy and insecure and sensitive to what other people think of me, and I used to be that way to a more extreme degree; I see some of myself in some of things you've posted, like I used to think I was so ugly nobody would ever want to date me or be my friend or whatever) and I feel like acknowledging being insecure or wanting more friends to other people made me less vulnerable in some way. Because, it's like, I'm not hiding anything, I don't have any embarrassing thing that I'm trying to hide. Again, I don't know that I'm explaining it right, but I'm remembering a question you asked with a part about feeling like you had to try to pretend you had friends when you didn't. And I can remember being in a place where I could really relate to that mindset and I think that one way out of that feeling is to just own it, to be like, so these are my problems, I'm trying to fix them but I'm not going to lie about them or try to hide them if it comes up.

Finally, I think that your roommate sounds awful, like a terrible person really. It may be that she's just an incorrigible bully who doesn't really feel much compassion or empathy for other people. It may also be that she's sort of only temporarily a terrible person, and is going through stuff of her own and can't get past the resentment she's developed of you. Not that that excuses what she's said to you, but it means maybe she won't always be this way in her life; maybe a year from now after you guys aren't roommates, she'll apologize. Who knows? But like other people have said, you shouldn't try to make her OK with you. You should try not to care, even if that's hard. All you can do is control your own behavior and reactions.
posted by treese at 11:02 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

Good on you for getting therapy and working to improve your life.

I think moving away from this person would be a good idea, but you can still do it on your own terms. Not having a written lease does not mean you have no rights. As someone who pays rent even in a sublet situation you probably have substantial rights. Ask a local tenant organization for details.
posted by grouse at 11:04 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't know what else to say about cleanliness except that I try. It doesn't come naturally to me at all, and it probably never will, but I try. I'm forgetful - there are at least two times I left my suitcase at home when visiting family - but I work on that too. But it's terrifying because at any moment there could be a thing I was supposed to do and didn't and will get yelled at. We already have a chore chart. It is very extensive and I try to follow it but nothing I ever do is to her standards. I don't use the right kind of mop, or I miss a spot I didn't even notice. (As far as the couch it's more like taking a nap at 4 p.m. or something. It doesn't happen all the time, it just happened recently because I was working until 5:30 a.m. the night before and I think that's But I don't understand why that's a problem. If I were going in and taking a nap on her bed that'd be a thing but it's a common couch. I'm allowed to use it, right? She lies down on it watching movies or her boyfriend will be there with her and I don't care because it doesn't register to me at all why anyone would care. If "dead skin cells and germs" or whatever grosses her out so much I hope she never takes the subway or sits in any public place.

I can't just "stop crying all the time" any more than I can just snap out of feeling bad. If I could things would be a lot easier. It's not like I try to talk to her about it because she has never asked what's wrong or anything. Instead I just go into my room. That's all I can do short of sitting outside in the cold. I can't go into some deeper level of my room. It's my room. I pay several hundred dollars a month to be there. If I can't be at home in my own room I don't know what to do. (I can see if I were, like, selling meth or running a prostitution ring out of my room, but that's not the case.)

My rent is, unfortunately, awesomely low, or else I would have had to move about a year ago. (To give you an benchmark, most of the listings on The Worst Room seem like really expensive deals.) Security deposit plus moving expenses plus a month's rent up front would be at least $3000. I don't have $3000, I live month to month (I don't have a job, just a gig that if it pans out will last at least a few months but only that.) I just don't know what to do in the short term. I am staying at my boyfriend's house today because the thought of setting foot in my own apartment gives me panic attacks (this is, unfortunately, not an exaggeration) but that obviously can't go on forever.
posted by dekathelon at 11:07 AM on November 13, 2013

Are you similarly forgetful in your freelance work? How do you cope with the forgetfulness in that domain?
posted by tel3path at 11:14 AM on November 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

Don't know if this is still too expensive for you but I do see apartment listings sometimes that aren't outrageous, assuming you could find a roommate to join you (like this one). You could try putting an ad on craigslist to see if anyone else is in a similar situation and wants to find a new place together. In my experience, I feel better in crappy situations if I take some active steps to change them, even if it doesn't work out right away. I'm sorry your roommate is being a jerk.
posted by mlle valentine at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2013

I can't just "stop crying all the time" any more than I can just snap out of feeling bad. If I could things would be a lot easier. It's not like I try to talk to her about it because she has never asked what's wrong or anything. Instead I just go into my room. That's all I can do short of sitting outside in the cold. I can't go into some deeper level of my room. It's my room. I pay several hundred dollars a month to be there. If I can't be at home in my own room I don't know what to do.

People who don't know mental illness may not get this, but there are are people here who really do, so I hope you take some comfort from that. As long as you aren't bursting into her bedroom and weeping all over her, you are doing fine, and we all know you're not doing that because you're depressed, not dumb. You can't force her to be okay with it, but at the very least you should not beat yourself up for it just because some people don't get it. As you get better, you will cry less. It'll happen! But you do pay for that room and you are entitled to that room and I like the idea of doing what you can to make that room into the most comfortable spot you possibly can for the moment.

I think ideally you SHOULD be able to nap on the sofa once in awhile in a shared apartment, but there's "should" and there's the things you're actually going to be able to do while sharing an apartment with someone who is completely inconsiderate and has no idea how to cope appropriately with your mental health issues, and so a few things that are otherwise reasonable are probably going to have to be sacrificed in the name of sanity. For now. Not forever, though.
posted by Sequence at 11:28 AM on November 13, 2013

Please try, also, to remember that she doesn't know how to cope with your mental illness any more than you do. This is the thought I've had to focus on in the face of past damage done to the relationships in my life. It's certainly a cold comfort now, and there's no reason why you should have any sympathy for her, but sometimes other people behave poorly because they, too, are weak rather than because they are powerful.
posted by tel3path at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

So you can't move out of your apartment because you're basically living in the cheapest place in New York City... but why do you need to stay in NYC? You're freelancing/working from home, right?

You can move to Philly or Baltimore, or wherever, your rent will probably be 1/2 of what it is now, and you can use some of the saivngs on weekend trips to visit your boyfriend.
posted by Asparagus at 11:53 AM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Maybe you can't stop crying, but can you turn on some music? Cry more quietly? Cry in the shower?

I had a pretty rough patch when I was living in a loft with paper-thin walls. I'm sure my roommates heard me cry a few times, but I think blasting music or waiting until I got into the shower made things a little less awkward.

We already have a chore chart. It is very extensive and I try to follow it but nothing I ever do is to her standards. I don't use the right kind of mop, or I miss a spot I didn't even notice.

I'm not sure if you're actually messy, or your roommate is like my super anal retentive douche bag former roommate who would yell at me over petty things. After getting bitched about leaving the shower curtain open and not folding the dish towels properly for the fifth time that week, I got the fuck out of dodge. Move. Leave NYC for a little while if you have to.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

But it's terrifying because at any moment there could be a thing I was supposed to do and didn't and will get yelled at. We already have a chore chart. It is very extensive and I try to follow it but nothing I ever do is to her standards. I don't use the right kind of mop, or I miss a spot I didn't even notice

She sounds delightful.

I think you're getting some good advice to stick up for yourself here.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2013

I'm sorry, but all of her comments are way beyond the pale. I would forget trying to get along with her, and just avoid her. I had a roommate like this once. It turned out that the entire time she was bitching about anything and everything she was also exaggerating bill costs, basically stealing from us. What your roommate doesn't understand is that you live in this place too. You aren't beholden to her. You don't have to do anything to make her life easier.

I'm not suggesting you do this, but just so you know, you could stop paying rent altogether and legally there would be no way to get you out of there. In fact, because her name is on the lease, she would bear all the responsibility. In New York, if you wandered into a room off the street and slept there one night, you could not legally be removed from that room. It could take years to get you out. I mention this because, there's nothing your roommate can do to you. She CANNOT kick you out, if that's what you're afraid of.

If you weren't depressed, I would suggest basically acting like a pig and making it plain to her that if she wants anything from you she needs to treat you nicely. I would flat out say that you are doing and living any way you want from now on, and she can go f herself. However, I know hard it is to be depressed, so I strongly suggest that you treat her as the one that is mentally ill and sick from now on. Personally, I strongly suspect that in reality this is the case. She's completely unreasonable and needs to be handled with kid gloves. She's a nasty, nasty person, and I'll bet you anything that deep down, she's a very, very unhappy person.
posted by xammerboy at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just don't know what to do in the short term.

Keep your head down, pay your rent and bills on time, and try your best to comply with the letter of your various arrangements with her. Start saving up to move. Keep your eyes peeled for living situations that don't involve the full first+last+security situation.

If you own enough stuff that "moving costs" are an actual factor in getting out of there, start getting rid of things. Because seriously, I don't think I ever paid more than $200 to move apartments in NYC. Unless you own every stick of furniture in the apartment, a huge TV, an entire kitchen full of appliances, etc. you really should not need to spend much on moving. And if you do have that much stuff, I'd start seriously considering what's more important, your coffee table or your mental health.

In terms of getting by, I'm going to be super straight with you, to the point of possibly a little tough love.

I once had a roommate with pretty serious mental health issues who was also battling addiction. It was really hard. Interestingly, she also had a casual gig-style freelance job that meant she was home more than my other roommate and I. My other roommate and I had a lot of the same complaints about her that you've described your roommate having.

One thing that is interesting looking back at that time is how easy it was to let frustrations about everyday things like not doing chores boil over into nitpicking and becoming irritated with everything about her. In a lot of ways I blame myself for contributing to that dynamic, but really and truly, had she just made some kind of good faith effort to follow the rules*, do her chores, clean up after herself, etc. things wouldn't have spun so wildly out of control.

The root of my resentment happened because, looking around, it was just glaringly obvious that she wasn't doing anything. Her chores never got done. And not that she missed a spot or "hm, I dunno the bathroom looks pretty clean, but who knows????" -- like blatantly not done ever, no matter what, after many conversations. There always seemed to be food spilled somewhere, or dirty dishes simply put back into the cupboards without being washed at all, or dirty pots and pans in the kitchen for days, growing mold.

Because of that, my advice to you would be to visibly make an effort. Do your chores while she's around. If you make a mess, clean it up. If it happens while she's around, or you can demonstrate stuff like doing the dishes or straightening up while she's at home, all the better. Let her see that you're trying. Don't slip into a place where you never do your chores, never clean anything, leave filth around for days, and blatantly disregard agreed-on rules and standards.

That said, based on my previous experience I'll also say that it seems like the well is pretty much poisoned, and you really shouldn't expect to get back in her good graces. Not that you should even want to -- again, she sounds like an asshole. But I just wouldn't put your energy into Making Her Like You, I would put it into getting along until you can get out of there.

*We ended up kicking her out for smoking in the apartment, which was something we all agreed was not allowed when we moved in and pretty standard in NYC shared apartments.
posted by Sara C. at 12:32 PM on November 13, 2013 [9 favorites]

So, there are two things happening here.

1. Your roommate spoke to you in a completely unacceptable manner. No matter WHAT happened with regard to roommate disputes (even if if you were NOT paying rent), that in no way justifies making rude comments about your appearance, sex life, etc. Period. If this happens again, I would respond by briefly saying something to the effect of: "That is not an acceptable way to talk to me. I'm happy to discuss ISSUE X (cleaning, common spaces, etc.) at a future time if you can be more calm and mature." Then leave. Don't engage, and certainly don't try to get into a debate over whether you're "really" unattractive -- this isn't something you can win by proving you have a boyfriend! She is being fundamentally unreasonable by bringing these things up, as they have nothing to do with the roommate situation. Not cool, and definitely a reason to get out of this housing situation.

2. If you're going to choose to live with other people you need to either
a) pick roommates with similar standards of cleanliness, or
b) step it up.

Look, I've lived places where everyone agreed that dishes could be left for the next day, we didn't need to sweep the floor all that often, and clutter was okay. As long as the people you live with are okay with that, it's not a big issue. But if you're not going to specifically seek out roommates who share your preferred level of mess, "trying" and failing is not actually good enough. (Imagine a husband who says, "Honey, but I really TRIED not to cheat on you! It just happened! It's just my nature!" No - we are in control of our own actions.) There are a lot of great strategies above on improving this issue. However, in my experience as a naturally messy person who has successfully lived with 'clean and tidy' people, the easiest and most pain-free way to do it is to contain your mess. Let your room be the place of chaos it is, and keep your mess OUT of common areas. If you can't wash that coffee mug - stash it on your dresser until you can wash it. Instead of spreading out work you know won't get cleared up for a while on the dining table, spread it out in your room. Keep your shower stuff in a little caddy that can get as gross as you let it - and store it on a shelf in your room rather than in the bathroom. It is not fair to treat your roommate as a maid/mom just because "Hey, I'm messy, I can't help it, I'm trying!"

Similarly - take a nap on your bed rather than in a common area. The problem with doing it in a common area is that you're claiming exclusive right to that space. If you were, say, watching TV or reading a book in the common area, your roomie could also comfortably be in that space. It's actually really uncomfortable for most people to be in a room with another sleeping person unless it's their significant other. If it's happening, like one time in six months, okay - but I get the sense this is a more frequent occurrence.

Noises coming from your room - whether crying, sex, long personal phone calls, etc. etc. should be happening when your roommate is not home or should be stifled in some way. Put on some music or a TV show. No, it will not 100% block out the sound, but it's common courtesy to at least make an effort to cover up your noise. You don't need to try to never cry - impossible! - but rather make it clear that you're trying to minimize the impact on those you're around.

These are all basic courtesies that should help decrease tension with this roommate as well as being good habits to cultivate so that things don't reach this level of tension with future roommates.

And yeah - get the heck out of NYC! I live in the Bay Area, and San Francisco has a similarly crazy rental market -- so people move to surrounding areas where rent is cheaper unless they're rich. Period. If you don't have the income to support it, move to either an outlying area where you can commute in via train when you have to be in the city, or to a nearby area where you can afford a car and drive to see you boyfriend on weekends. Low rent is not a reason to stay in a seriously toxic roommate situation. Plus - if you go somewhere with lower rent, you can likely afford a studio, which it sounds like would all-around suit you much better!
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:38 PM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

So, when I lived with a hater in NYC, my 1/2 of the rent was $850.
Here, in Philly, my rent is $760. No roommates. Huge apartment. Horrible credit history, got the apartment anyway.

NYC is especially cruel to those without a cushion to keep them afloat. When I was there I couldn't imagine living anywhere else, but that was, frankly, dumb.
posted by angrycat at 12:50 PM on November 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

She CANNOT kick you out, if that's what you're afraid of.

If you're not on a lease, and you pay your rent directly to your roommate (instead of to the landlord), that isn't necessarily true. But she probably doesn't want you to actually leave (because she certainly doesn't sound like she'd be shy about lording her on-the-lease status over you if she'd thought of it) because you pay your bills, and finding a new roommate is a pain.
posted by mgar at 12:52 PM on November 13, 2013

Stop trying to justify yourself, here, and to her. Your roommate is a crazy bitch, just ignore her as much as you can. She is irrelevant. Her opinion is irrelevant.
posted by windykites at 2:50 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't want to justify anything your roommate said to you because she was out of line.

I think that if you had the means to move out tomorrow, that would be a great idea.

I think that *even* if you had the means to move out tomorrow, and *especially* because you don't, you still need to take another look at your roommate with as much empathy as you can possibly muster. Not empathy to belittle yourself, but empathy to see things through her eyes. That will allow you to be a better roommate for others. It will also be your best shot of having any kind of peace at home at all.

Ideally, messy and neat people should never live together as roommates. It's hard enough as spouses, but as roommates? Forget it.

Now you know about yourself that you are a messy roommate, and you need to look for other messy roommates. But in the mean time, try to empathize that for a neat person, your being messy and not cleaning up after yourself can be fairly experienced as tremendously if not aggressively disrespectful. So yes, she's being out of line to you verbally, but you were out of line to her non-verbally. If you can wrap your head around that, you'll be in a much better position to make something work.

As far as making something work, I think you have two options. One is to aggressively work to adapt to her priorities. If you know you're bad at cleaning, make up for quality with quantity. But that's really hard and I fear not realistic for you with depression.

The other option is to basically make your room your home and leave her the rest of the space. Eat, to the extent possible cook, live, sleep, in your own room. That way your messes will be there and you can both have some space from each other. I would let her know that you realize that you can't be a good roommate for her now (part of being a roommate is sharing the house and sharing the household duties), and you wish it were otherwise but for now you are going to try to minimize your impact. Insist on chipping in extra money that she can use for cleaning. I would say enough to cover a cleaning service once a month. Can you afford that? Well, is it still cheaper than a new apartment? Then you can.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:37 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I understand the problems here: you've got no money, your roommate is an abusive bitch, you're battling depression.

The thing is, staying where you are really isn't feasible: that bitch of a roommate is holding you back in your fight against the depression --- picture living either with a reasonable person or by yourself: imagine how GOOD it would feel to not have someone always picking, picking, picking at you like a scab. Imagine how totally PEACEFUL it would be not to have this bitch yelling at you.

So no money/have to move: okay, move. Take your boyfriend up on that offer of couch surfing; a couple months of that would save you some money, plus give you breathing space to either find another place in NYC or, yeah, Philadelphia or Baltimore.

You've been doing so well lately; don't let this jerk of a roommate drag you down. You'll never be able to have a civil relationship with her: she's flat-out TOLD YOU she wants to hurt you, and that'll never change. Moving may be a hard choice, but it's your only real option.

(By the way, when you do decide to move? Pack your stuff and get out BEFORE you tell her: I could easily see this wacko locking you out and holding your stuff hostage.)
posted by easily confused at 2:29 AM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

A couple of things I'm noticing in your responses.

1. You're trying to convince us why what you do should be ok. "(As far as the couch it's more like taking a nap at 4 p.m. or something. It doesn't happen all the time, it just happened recently because I was working until 5:30 a.m. the night before and I think that's But I don't understand why that's a problem." You're probably doing the same thing to your roommate instead of listening to her.

Here's the thing: you don't need to understand why something is a problem. You're using public space for a private-space activity. When a person says to you "I don't like it when you do X here, this space is designed for Y," and you respond with "I'm doing X here because..." --- then what you're saying to the other person is "I'm not listening to you. My needs at any given moment trump house rules and other people's expectations."

2. You're letting yourself off the hook with generalities: Cleaning "doesn't come naturally to me at all, and it probably never will, but I try." What are you doing to try? What actions specifically have you taken? "I wrote up a kitchen checklist so my routine now is to pack and label leftovers, wash dishes, wipe down counters, rinse off and hang the rag to dry, dry and hang pots, dry and put away dishes." That's what it means to try: develop a workaround for something that doesn't come naturally.

"I can't just "stop crying all the time"" You've gotten advice here about antidepressants, pillows, showers, radios. You're in your room, but if you're loudly wailing, then your voice is not in your room. It's like listening to a roommate having sex all the time. You don't begrudge them the sex, but you don't want to be audibly included in it just because you live in the same house.

Lots of vague "I try" "I work on it" "I used to be worse" .... none of that is specific steps toward improving/eliminating these problems that - whether she's a cruel bitch or not - she has a valid point about. The only thing "I'm working on it" does is shut down the conversation in the moment, because what can the other person say to that. It doesn't do anything about the problem.

I don't know what you address in your therapy but I'd bet you'd make lots of progress if you went in there and said "help me develop concrete steps to address these problems: forgetfulness, messiness, day-to-day maintenance of myself and my environment."

Take action. Real action. It's your life, you're the only one who can improve it.
posted by headnsouth at 5:54 AM on November 14, 2013 [13 favorites]

dekathelon, I kind of want to throw a parade in your honor. I am so happy that you have found regular work, that you have been able to make rent, and that you are getting treatment for your depression. Seriously! From one internet stranger to another, I earnestly salute you.

This, a thousand times this.

So, your roommate is awful and you need to get out of there. In my experience, these sort of awful roommate situations come to a head at the least convenient times - such as when one is ill, or short on money, or under a tight deadline at work. You have to find a new living situation, it is not healthy to share a space with someone who is mean to you, but try to find a good situation for yourself. Many of us have been where you are at right now.

I have a couple of things to say about the couch and cleaning up, but I am not saying you need to do it for your roommate. Just some tips going forward, to keep it smooth with the kinder roommates you will live with in the future.

Regarding sleeping on the living room couch: this is one of those things that, if you are the one doing the sleeping, seems not that bad. I don't know what it is, but this is a behavior that can become a sticking point between roommates. I know a guy who got rid of a perfectly nice couch and replaced it with the least-comfortable replacement he could find in order to prevent his roommates from napping on it. People don't like tip-toeing around shared spaces in their home, and the sight of a sleeping person makes people feel like they must, even if they don't. It triggers weird bad feelings in people. Is it rational? No. Does it give her a right to be so mean to you? No. But it is what it is and you should just never do it.

Regarding messes: we can't tell from here how messy or not you are. It's possible that you are doing fine and your roommate has unreasonable expectations. But if you truly are the sort of person who "doesn't see messes", you need to start some tidying/cleaning habits that do not require to you to notice that something needs to be done. People tout chore charts for this kind of thing, but I think for the "don't see messes" type of messiness chore charts don't help at all. (They are good for jobs like "clean the bathroom" once per week and keeping track of turns on those types of bigger cleaning jobs. BTW, if you are not good at cleaning, you may need someone to break down "clean the bathroom" into the individual steps. I am not saying you are, but perhaps? No shame if that's the case!) But for general kitchen tidiness, for example, you could wipe down the counter(s), put away containers of food, and wash any dishes that you used before you sit down to eat. Do this even if you've only made a cup of coffee. Annoying? Yes. Possibly overkill? Yes. But you'll be sure that you've never left a spill behind.

You may as well as start these behaviors now, not for your roommate's benefit, but for your future nice roommate's benefit.

Now, about the crying ... keep on with the therapy, be honest with your therapist about the frequency/intensity of the crying. Has it crossed your mind that you may need medication? For myself, I've noticed that when I start to think, "Hmm, if things get any worse I may need medication" it's actually a sign that I needed medication a few months back. IANAD etc etc.

Good luck!
posted by stowaway at 8:13 AM on November 14, 2013

Response by poster: I tried telling her that it wasn't acceptable to speak to me that way. Her response was "Wow, you've made this whole thing about your self-esteem issues... nice job. I already said I knew it was a mean, hurtful thing to say. When you act like an adult, I will treat you with the respect I would give an adult."

I have no idea what to do, because I can't live in a space where this exists, but somehow I have to, and I don't even know if I have a right to say anything because clearly she thinks I doesn't. I am literally afraid to go back to the apartment I pay rent for.
posted by dekathelon at 2:54 PM on November 14, 2013

Just stop engaging with her at all.

And get the hell out of there. I agree with you that it's probably a little late to be in a new place for December 1, but you can certainly start getting all your ducks in a row to make it happen.

And, again, if you're legitimately afraid for your safety and not just high on the Mean Girl Being Mean dynamic, get out of there! Don't stay. Take your friends up on their offers of a couch to crash on. Plan to be away for the holidays (or maybe she will be and you can go home during that time). January will be here before you know it.

And, seriously, practically speaking, you sort of have to shit or get off the pot about moving. You can't just stay there forever and be upset that she's an inhuman turd. You need a practical plan for finding a new place to live.

People move apartments in New York City all the time. You can do this, and catastrophizing/paralyzing yourself about it gets you nowhere.
posted by Sara C. at 3:05 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree that you are doing awesome with life and I so want to give you a high five.

But she's abusing you. I wouldn't talk to my cat that way. The only reason this probably seemed at all okay to you was because you're battling depression and I'm sure your self-talk is worse.

Can you stay with your boyfriend for a few months? Friends? Family while doing your freelance remotely? You gotta get out of there. This is not just harsh, but to someone who is dealing with internal demons like yours, absolutely toxic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

It really does seem like she's aware of your mental issues and trying to stick a knife into at any possibility. Realize she's a heinous bitch, do not engage, and get the fuck out of there. Make a plan. Figure out how many days you have to endure this. Make those days as few as possible.
posted by angrycat at 4:18 AM on November 15, 2013

If you plan ahead, you can get tickets from Philly to New York on Megabus and Boltbus for the cost of a subway ride in NYC. Philly is crazy cheap compared to NYC and in my opinion a hell of a lot nicer place to live. People are way more laid back and less competitive. You said in your follow-ups you don't have a solid job situation in NYC, so why not move to a place where it would be cheaper and less stressful to exist while unemployed?
posted by Anonymous at 7:18 AM on November 15, 2013

The thing with telling someone that something is unacceptable is that you then have to go on to not accept it. Otherwise it's just words.

There is plenty of time to find a sublet for December. You will feel better if you take care of yourself.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:41 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

A right? It's a free country, etc. If she's got the right to spout off all kinds of rude bullshit, you have just as much right to do the same! But it's probably not going to be very useful. When dealing with abusive people, you're always going to want to engage with them in a nice, sane way, and it's just not possible. Giving up on a tactic is not always admitting defeat. If you had a live tiger in your living room, you could certainly start off with "nice kitty, good kitty", but if it takes a swat at you, you'd be looking for some other way to handle it. Sometimes avoidance is healthy, especially when you're living with someone who has apparently never heard of civilized discourse. Just because she's meaner and more rude than you are doesn't mean she's any more in the right. You can stand up for yourself in your own head, anyway, even if doing so to her isn't productive. Cultivate some eye-rolly righteous indignation, it's warranted now if it ever is! Who does she think she is, your mom? Etc.

If you actually feel physically unsafe, do take measures accordingly. If it's just a freakout panic attack kind of response, it'll probably settle down a bit as you make more concrete plans to get out and spend less time interfacing with her.
posted by Sequence at 4:42 PM on November 15, 2013

Yeah, if she starts getting into personal things, you say some variant on "That's not relevant to the issue," or "I'm not going to talk about that with you, let's get back to the [dishes]", but you say it once. If she persists, you leave; get out of the apartment and take a walk if possible, or just go to your room and shut the door (and put in headphones). Wait about an hour or so, and come back and pick up the conversation (about roommate related things only.)

She'll be pretty angry the first few times you do this, and will probably amp up the nastiness in response, but she'll get the message if you keep doing it.
posted by kagredon at 2:52 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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